College Doesn’t Always Pay

According to my bank, I still have $48.71 to last me until payday. Not much, but I could make do. However, I tried to make a small purchase at McDonald’s this morning, and my card was denied. She swiped it twice.

As far as I can tell, all recent transactions have cleared with my bank. The reflected balance makes sense from all purchases I can remember making. Why was my card denied?

I feel bad for probably contributing to food waste when my prepared drive through order was tossed for nonpayment, and I’m still hungry.

I’m also still reeling from being told by two different places that they wouldn’t give me more than $75 for a computer I bought new for $600 in January and two other places wouldn’t give me more than $3 for a collection of three sterling silver rings.

I’m broke, can’t spend what little money I have left even if I want to, and no one’s willing to meet me halfway on selling items I could live without.

Why am I in this position? Why am I living on welfare and scrounging from paycheck to paycheck when I have an advanced degree and a job in my field?

Why do I worry about buying diapers and formula for my youngest child? Why do I struggle to keep gasoline in my car? Why is my EBT card my only way to keep food on the table most days?

I realize there’s some amount of personal responsibility: if I’d only spent less money on A, B, and C, I could afford X, Y, and Z. But what else? I’m supposed to be making a living wage at this point. After rent and bills, there’s precious little left; even if I waste it, there’s not much there to waste.

I’m not the only one in this boat. Countless Americans were told that a college education would change their lives. They were told that getting a degree, especially a graduate degree, would somehow magically transform their earning potential. It doesn’t.

A college degree opens up earning potential. That’s all, folks. It will not guarantee earned income. The field you go into is part of that, of course. Here I was pursuing a degree of my choice, in a field I wanted. Here I was trying to go with what I knew I could excel at. How stupid was that.

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